This maker turned an antique typewriter into a MIDI drum machine
April 23rd, 2020—
Vintage typewriters are truly amazing pieces of technology, but unlike modern keyboards, they are decidedly one-purpose machines. William Sun Petrus, however, had other ideas for his 1920s-era Remington Portable typewriter, augmenting hammers with wires as inputs to an Arduino Mega.
Input signals are produced when each key strikes a metallic “live plate” in the center, completing a circuit. This info is passed along as MIDI signals to a computer running Ableton digital audio software, allowing him to create the excellent beat seen in the video below.
Typewriter code is available on GitHub, where you’ll certainly notice the lines from Green Eggs and Ham that are output on an LCD screen at the base of the almost 100-year-old device.